Challenge 3: Capturing Candid Moments

This challenge is about candid photos. Candid moments can show our dogs more naturally, exactly as they are. They can be hard to capture, depending on the dog! Some dogs will race around unprompted, but others will end up “sticky” and hanging out with you wondering what’s up.

It can also be difficult to work with lighting when you are letting the dog roam around and be candid – shadows or side lighting can wreak havoc on your photos!

Similarly, getting two dogs in focus can be hard if you still want a narrow depth of field. Composition can also be challenging! It’s easy to chop off parts of your dog/s or frame them less than ideally when they’re wandering around. 

The best candid photos:

  • still make use of light and location, with decent composition
  • tell a story, or show something particular about the subject 
  • can be posed, but then the dog moves or does his own thing. The main thing is that there is a “trueness” about the dog in the photo
If you’re working with your own dog, on your own, you may just need to settle somewhere and let them wander off. If they LOVE having their photo taken (like Loki), then changing your camera to have a silent shutter (if your camera can do this. not all can) might help them to get “unstuck” from the camera, and simply relax and look around. Doing a food scatter away from you and waiting for them to finish eating could also help them to disengage from you (I wouldn’t advise photographing them while they’re eating, it probably won’t be that nice or interesting!). Or using a helper can also get them moved away from you. Get your helper to wander back and forth or to just sit or stand at a distance from you, all of you just relaxing and not doing anything particularly exciting. Be prepared for these camera-loving dogs to snap back to attention the second they hear the shutter click, so use the shutter wisely, and be prepared to start the relaxation/distraction process all over again the moment you trigger it. 

Other dogs, who won’t love posing, looking in a certain direction, or constantly being the model, will probably produce candid photos much easier, as they move around their environment, look for squirrels, listen to birds, and explore their environment. 

Some examples:

Challenge 2: Dog in his World

For this challenge,  we’re going to take it a bit wider after focusing on the details in the last “All about the dog challenge” and have a look at our subject in his environment.

You don’t need a wide-angle lens for this challenge. The idea is for you to capture/create a scene where it feels like the dog is alone in his environment, and you are an unseen observer. 

Go wider than you are usually comfortable with – really let the dog be a smaller part of his environment, rather than taking up 1/3 of the frame. 

Continue to keep in mind:

  • lighting
  • composition
  • taking a nice photo 😉

But this time you’ll also want to think carefully about

  • pose and gazing direction (you could really try “Faceless Portraits” here! How does the story change when the dog is facing away from the camera?)
  • how the dog is situated in the environment (what is “natural”?) 
  • choosing a location that isn’t going to be overwhelmingly busy.

If you’re  feeling stuck creatively, try it out! 

Here’s some examples! I actually take quite a few of these photos but since they aren’t necessarily my style, I don’t tend to get around to editing them. 🙈

Challenge 1: All in the Details

This challenge is “all about the details”.

Take a photo that shows one of the favourite thing about your subject, whether it’s your own dog, or a client’s. Get up close and personal! Really isolate the detail you want to show.

  • Maybe it’s their cute ears
  • Curled tail
  • Interesting eyes
  • Sideways tongue

Get creative! 

Don’t forget about how to use light, keeping composition in mind, and still producing a “nice” photo. This is often more challenging than it sounds 😉 Detail photos can often be used as “album fillers”!

This last one was just experimenting with an art lens – definitely not the best compositionally! But Journey says so much through his loud yawns that I thought I would include it anyway. 

These detail photos are not something I do often enough in my own work!